Thursday, December 1, 2011

Exercising -when the excuses run out, you need to make it work!


Yup, people will go to great lengths to avoid moving their bodies. People hate dieting, but they'd rather starve then move their bodies - What with all the sweating, soreness, and...moving.

Research has shown that exercise is a better controller of cholesterol levels then dieting is, and improves your immune functions, your sleep, your overall positive disposition (you know how work out people always seem annoyingly happy?), balances hormones, lessens symptoms of PMS/pregnancy/post-partum depression, improves glucose tolerance (so your body uses blood sugar better), helps cardiovascular function, prevents dementia, improves digestion, etc....but, people would rather take a pill or eat a "magic food" or complain and be sad then move their bodies. Confession: from time to time, I'm one of those people.

I recently started doing P90X again, a workout program that I do at home with weights (no not the bulk you up, but the tone you up). I dragged myself to starting it, with a very whiny "I Don't wanna go work out." I had been working out regularly - 6 days a week kind of regular, but then got very sick over a month ago, and just couldn't do it for a while. I gave myself time to recover, and now it's time to get back into it! Yes, I get sweaty, and yes, I get sore - but it does get better and here are some of my tips for getting yourself over the hump, and into a regular exercise routine:

Slow and Steady
Most people are so ready to work out, and so despise it, that they go at 100% in their first workout. Then they are too sore, or really injured to continue. They limp around with a general feeling of "See, I told you this sucked." So slow it down. Going at 80% will probably make you feel like you're being a slacker, but it is far more realistic. Do what you can ACTUALLY do, not what you want your body to be able to do...that takes work, and time. After a week or two, you'll find you are able to do more and can up your endurance, weights, or intensity.

Isolate the Right Muscles
Ok, so this is another example of how people can injure themselves. If you are intending to workout a particular area, say for example, your biceps (the "make a muscle" muscle), you will probably do curls. But you need to have good form, and the right weight. If you begin to curl your arm, by swinging your body to get the arm up - no good. That means that you aren't lifting the weight with your bicep, but with other parts of your body. At this point, you should slow down, lower the weight you are lifting, or perhaps you have hit your max on this exercise. Also, don't collapse. If you are doing leg lifts, don't lift with all your might and then drop your legs to the ground. Don't lift a weight up high, only to let it swing down to a rest position. Control the body, up and down. This will prevent injury, strengthen your core, and isolate the muscles you are really targeting.

Stop Making Excuses
We all give a million reasons why we can't do something, but at some point we need to accept that these reasons are just excuses. No money? Working out is FREE. Sure you could join a gym, or do awesome workouts like P90X. You could go to a yoga class, or buy weights to use at home. These are all wonderful, structured tools to enhance your workouts - but they are not the end. You can workout in your neighborhood, take walks/jogs, go hiking, hop on a bike path. You can get free videos from the library, or simply increase your movement by taking the stairs, walking to the store, or doing sit ups or jumping jacks instead of laying on the couch while watching TV. No time? The funny thing about committing to a workout routine is that there is always time. Walk on your lunch break, or after dinner with the kids, put your laptop on a stationary bike and multitask, get up a little earlier in the morning, or look at exercise programs like Slim in 6 (minutes) or 10 minute trainer. For more information about these programs go to Too tired or have an injury? There are always exercises that can be done despite any injury. I'm a nurse, so I know that if people with spinal cord injuries work out every day, or my cancer patients still find the energy, that this is really just an excuse. Work with a professional to find activities that work for you. Try swimming or yoga if you have joint issues, etc. About being too tired, the truth is that exercise increases your stamina and makes you feel energized. Is there an excuse you keep repeating to yourself? Submit it here and I'll help you find a solution!

Be My Buddy
Getting in to a regular routine takes habit, but sticking to that habit requires support and structure. Don't just say "I'm going to work out again," make a schedule that says I will do THIS today. I like p90X because it tells me exactly what I am doing every day for 90 days. Today I worked on my chest/back muscles, and tomorrow I'll be doing yoga! If you don't know how to make a schedule, work with a coach or a trainer. Get a buddy: have a friend who can hold you accountable, and be a support. Work out together, or just connect with people (online or in person) who will encourage you to work out today. Research shows that when people have a buddy, they stick to their schedules better, and are more likely to reach their goals.

So find a buddy and get started. Watch your form, and prevent injuries by listening to your body and not trying to get years of not exercising into one workout! Develop a plan, an work through your excuses. If you need help with that, there are plenty of people out there willing to help. Some for free like a church group, or at a community center, or at your work, and some are professional services, like coaches, trainers, and professionals like at who offer workshops or one on one support. Good luck!

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